14 February 2012

Signposting Public Footpaths

Public footpaths do allow some access to the countryside.

Although England has some beautiful countryside, most of of it is private property surrounded by “Trespassers will be Prosecuted" notices and inaccessible to the public.

Nevertheless, across fields, woodlands and between properties there are public footpaths. These are often poorly marked, overgrown - and in many cases vandalised by landowners. Thirty centimetres of deliberately created mud or a few coils of barbed wire deter a majority of ramblers.

One of the biggest impediments is the poor signage. Two obvious steps could be taken. One would be to replace the rather unhelpful sign “public footpath” with a sign which said where the path was going and how far it was. The second would be for paths to have colours, red, green, yellow and blue – and at points where walkers could go astray mark a clearly visible tree, post, wall or stone with the appropriate colour.

I suppose there are some who argue that well signposted and marked public footpaths protected by robust laws would remove the pleasure of the challenge of walking in the English countryside. I do not agree.


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